Jabari Smith stared up towards the ceiling, palms up, as he backed away from the basket. With 11:44 remaining, he was fouled after missing another layup.
An irritated Smith let out a loud yell. That pretty much summed up the final game of a fantastic Auburn basketball career.
Sunday’s 79-61 loss to No. 10 seed Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament was a crushing finale to one of Auburn’s best seasons ever.
After a 19-game win streak that saw them reach the top of both polls, the Tigers (28-6) have lost five of their last 11 games.
Their regular season title was their fourth in school history, however they were eliminated from the conference and national tournaments in the first round.
They made it to the Final Four as a No. 5 seed three years ago, but this year as a No. 2 seed, they were eliminated in the Sweet 16 round.
The Individual Members Make Up the Team’s Strength
Auburn’s All-American frontcourt duo of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler helped the Tigers move up to the fourth slot in the SEC, despite being predicted to finish fifth.
They were victorious in the first game on Friday thanks to a combined 33 points and 24 boards.
The guard position was constantly scrutinised this year, but both Smith and Kessler played poorly in the playoffs. Smith was only able to make 3 of 16 shots overall and 1 of 8 threes.
Kessler got into foul trouble early and was unable to play at his normal level in the second half. Two points, two rebounds, and two blocks on zero shots from the field.
Of Auburn’s 69 tries at the basket, only 21 were made (11 of 24 layups, 5 of 26 threes).
The Offensive Effort Stymied Itself
There was a gap in security caused by an open window. There was no one blocking any lanes. Wendell Green Jr. grabbed the offensive board and raced in for a layup, but he shot wide.
With a chase-down block reminiscent of LeBron James, K.D. Johnson gave Auburn’s fans one last reason to cheer.
The Duke Blue Devils and Villanova Wildcats are the latest teams to join the ranks of those doomed to lose in the NCAA tournament despite having generally stellar seasons according to March Madness.
On Monday night, one of the Kansas Jayhawks or the North Carolina Tar Heels will become the newest member of this group, and it won’t be a good feeling.